Finance manager Sharon Tan breaks down in court again

Finance manager Sharon Tan breaks down in court again
Sharon Tan

It was the second consecutive day she broke down in court.

Yesterday, City Harvest Church (CHC) finance manager Sharon Tan began tearing up when her lawyer, Senior Counsel (SC) Kannan Ramesh, questioned her about her husband and children around an hour into the hearing.

These were Mr Ramesh's final questions to Tan for the day.

Said Tan: "I met him in church and he is a member there. (He is) a good member as well as a cell group leader. I started my family in this church and I have three sons, (aged) 11, six and four."

She began choking back tears as she added: "They are members of the church and are happily growing up."

On Wednesday, she cried towards the end of the hearing, leading the judge to adjourn early for the day. Just as she had done the previous day, she looked away from the public gallery, where a few in the audience were seen wiping away tears.

Mr Ramesh asked Tan about the significance of the church to her, to which she answered shakily: "Very much significant.

"This is my first church and my only church. This is the church that I grew up in. I got to know my friends and my husband here, I started my family with three kids and have been a church member from (when I was) 15 to 25 years old."

She continued: "For 10 years, (when I was) 25 to 35 years old, I had the privilege of working in the church until the day that we got raided, Your Honour."

Her lawyer then asked if she had any intentions of hurting the church, which she denied.

Said Tan: "I'm not perfect and there are many things I still need to learn. I have done many things which may not seem to be the best... but Your Honour, I never had any intention to cause any harm to the church."

Presiding Judge of the State Courts See Kee Oon decided to call for a break to allow Tan to compose herself.

During the break, several of her supporters comforted her outside the courtroom. Co-accused John Lam also asked her if she was okay and she nodded.

It was the fifth day she was taking the stand.

Along with four of her co-accused, Tan is charged with criminal breach of trust for her involvement in the alleged misuse of CHC funds in the redemption of sham bonds.

She was also cross-examined by Lam's and CHC founder Kong Hee's lawyers, who quizzed her about their clients' role in the alleged conspiracy.

Lam's lawyer, SC Kenneth Tan, pointed out that a member of CHC's investment committee, Mr Martin Ong, had once asked her during a board meeting why so much money was invested into Xtron bonds.

NOT ANSWERED

Mr Ong had also asked how did Xtron spend the money. But his queries were not answered then as Tan was focused on recording the minutes in the meeting, she claimed.

Said Tan: "Later, I raised this up to (deputy senior pastor) Tan Ye Peng. I wasn't sure if we had ever let the board know... the general purpose and the specific spending of the bonds."

Kong's lawyer Aaron Lee highlighted a portion of handwritten notes that Tan had jotted down during a discussion about the Crossover Project.

He said she had written down an explanation by Kong Hee that the project was "not about making his wife famous" and that it is meant to "put Christianity into society".

Tan agreed.

She had said in an earlier statement: "We all know that she (Sun Ho) is not enjoying it as it is hard work and sacrifice. To us, every life being touched and changed is a success."

Finally, Tan was also cross-examined by co-accused and former fund manager Chew Eng Han, who represented himself after discharging SC Michael Khoo earlier this year. (See report on facing page.)

The trial continues today.

ABOUT THE CASE

City Harvest Church (CHC) founder Kong Hee and five others are on trial for allegedly misusing church funds through sham bonds.

This includes $24 million to allegedly fund the music career of Kong's wife, Ms Ho Yeow Sun, whose stage name is Sun Ho, and another $26.6 million to allegedly cover up the first amount.

They are said to have done this through music production firm Xtron and glass manufacturer Firna, run by long-time supporters of the church.

Kong, former board member John Lam, finance manager Sharon Tan, former fund manager Chew Eng Han, deputy senior pastor Tan Ye Peng and former finance manager Serina Wee face charges of criminal breach of trust and/or falsifying accounts.

Prosecutors had sought to show how Xtron and Firna directors simply did the accused's bidding.

The defence has argued that the transactions were legitimate, with the accused acting "in good faith" on the advice of lawyers and auditors.

ngjunsen@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Sep 19, 2014.
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